With hundreds of excited paddlers lining the Addington Beach for the first race of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series on Friday, the race produced a big surprise as former Olympic bronze medallist Bridgitte Hartley beat off the tough ladies competition to claim a maiden win at race one while stalwart Hank McGregor took the honours in the men’s race.
Paddlers were greeted to some tame conditions as long course, short course and stand-up paddle boarders took some time to work out the rust and Christmas pudding on Friday, however the racing at the sharp end of the field was as tough as ever with paddlers jostling for an early advantage.
Hartley and race favourite and Euro Steel team mate Hayley Nixon spent a lot of the race together however when the paddlers turned into the wind for the final time Hartley came into her own and managed to get ahead all the way to the finish line.
“Tonight was really fun and I was really excited to race with so many other paddlers and against some strong ladies,” Hartley mentioned.
“I really didn’t know what to expect so I was fairly cautious at the start of the race but I managed to catch Hayley just before the first buoy.”
Hartley was going to have her work cut out for her against an experienced paddler like Nixon but she believed that if she turned for home with Nixon she had a chance of winning.
“I tried to interval as much as I could into the wind and we had so much fun trying to catch some runs with the wind!
“It was so much fun and I am really excited that I managed to get a win at the first race of the series,” she added.
The ladies field was rounded out by Euro Steel/Carbonology’s Hayley Nixon in second, who finished 44 seconds behind Hartley, and young Euro Steel/Fenn Kayaks’ star Kyeta Purchase, who came home in third a further two minutes behind Nixon.
Euro Steel/Epic Kayaks’ Hank McGregor managed to pick up where he left off in 2016 with another win at the FNB Surfski Challenge as he eyes an impressive eighth FNB Surfski Series title. McGregor was in a class of his own as he dominated the entire field to win the race by 38 seconds over long-time rival Matt Bouman with Wade Krieger coming home in third.
Clinton Cook and Hamish Lovemore finished second overall in the race just behind McGregor and managed to just pip the pair of Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe to the win.
Emanuel Zaloumis was the best placed junior when he finished tenth overall just two seconds ahead of Hamish Mackenzie with Sabine Lawrie being the best placed junior girl.
The short course was dominated by Matthew Maroun who took the overall honours over Shane Maguire in second and Jasper Gaylard in third.
The SUP category was a tough race with Nick Park-Ross taking the race one honours ahead of Brandon Read in second and Robbie de Billot in third. The ladies category was won by Charlotte Anderson ahead of Lande Williamson and Danica Bartho in second and third respectively.
The The Funky Pants Surfski Challenge, Race Two of the 2017 FNB Surfski Series, takes place at 17h30 on Friday, 13 January at Marine Surf Lifesaving Club, Addington Beach.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – FNB SURFSKI CHALLENGE
RACE ONE OF THE 2017 FNB SURFSKI SERIES
Images Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media